Books I Read in April

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron
You can read my NetGalley review here!

Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson
This story about an experiment to raise children communally was oddly captivating. There are 9 couples and one single mother in 'The Infinite Family' project, plus the ten children, so it was kind of hard to keep everyone straight and I pretty much gave up on trying. Though, that was fine because I found the main character, Izzy the single mother, so very unique and compelling. Following along as she navigated her relationships and this crazy situation made for a great journey. It would also make for a great book club read, with a LOT to unpack on family values. 

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
I was surprised at how much I loved this book! I have seen varying reviews and thought it might be too heavy, too political, too cerebral, or boring (since it's described as beautiful writing, and that can sometimes be a red flag of 'boring' for me). It took a few chapters to get my bearings, as I thought the initial character introduction meandered and the tone felt almost clinical. Then as I warmed to the style and had a feel for the world Hamid was building, I dove in and hardly looked up from the pages for the two days in which it took me to read. It IS beautiful, gorgeous even, but not boring at all. It manages to feel so very real, like a memoir, and yet so unreal and dreamlike. I had zero problems with the magical realism element, and I'd hate for it to turn anyone off from the book, since it is not at all heavy handed - just a means to an end for telling this story of immigrants. A heartbreaking story in ways that I did not expect. Again, an amazing juxtaposition of the very real way we relate to the world and each other, while being absolutely fantastical. I haven't highlighted this many passages since one of last year's favorites, The Mothers
"..Nadia had taken one look aty Saeed's father and felt him like a father, for he was so gentle, and evoked in her a protective caring, as if for one's own child, or for a puppy, or for a beautiful memory one knows has already commenced to fade."
"..in contrast the city's dark swaths seemed darker, more significant, the way that blackness in the ocean suggests not less light from above, but a sudden drop-off in the depths below."
This is definitely going on the best of the 2017 list.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Talk about a novel feeling like a memoir... Anyone related to a black victim of negligent police violence could probably change a few names in this novel and it would reflect his or her life. Angie Thomas has done the hard work of putting those who read The Hate U Give in that friend or relative's shoes. The bones of the story reminds me a great deal of Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which was heavily based on his own experience of leaving the Indian reservation to attend a better (white) school. Thomas' novel feels a little less grounded in reality when it comes to the white suburban school she travels out of the 'hood to attend, in that I think she is giving white people too much credit. But each of her friends, and myriad family members, serves a purpose to get her message across (not at all in a didactic way) and it's an indelible one. This novel should definitely be required reading for... everyone.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Another Newberry award winner to check off my list! I read this the same month that I re-read Charlotte's Web with my son and, hoo boy, some tears have been shed. And since I was reading both, I invariably did some comparison's in my head and found Terabithia lacking that extra special something that makes you want to hug the book and keep it on your shelf forever. Perhaps it was because I didn't read it as a kid and it didn't give me overwhelming feelings of nostalgia. Either way, it is still a classic, gut wrenching, coming of age story that confronts death and how much of life is out of our control.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
So, I'm trying to listen to more audiobooks and the ones I've enjoyed have been memoirs read by the author. (Mainly, Tina Fey's Bossypants and anything by David Sedaris.) When the description of Lawson's memoir started with 'for fans of Fey and Sedaris' - I immediately downloaded it from Overdrive. The early parts of the book about her crazy rural childhood I found the most compelling, and there are definitely laugh out loud moments throughout. But, I kind of lost steam at the umpteenth story of angst between her and her husband, where the hyperbole goes into overdrive. Her writing is great, but for me it works best in small doses - like maybe best suited to....a blog? So, I will continue to check in occasionally at The Bloggess, but I don't think I'll be picking up Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things. Also, I DO think Lawson did a great job narrating her own story with great humor and I loved that she sang each chapter title. 


  1. I'm totally with you on Let's Pretend...I was dying with those childhood stories, but then the book became so scattered when she reached adulthood that I couldn't follow it and just got frustrated.

    I've stayed away from Exit West for the same reasons you mentioned...plus I don't like magical realism...but I've heard so many great things about this one that I'm considering giving it a try.